I’m often asked in comments when the Intelligence Community (IC) will leak. My answer is always that the intelligence community, both the US’s and that of our allies and partners, will leak when it is in their strategic interest to do so. The targeted leaks in early 2017 about Attorney General Sessions phone calls and meetings with Ambassador Kislyak during the 2016 election, as well as about his problems with filling out his SF86 truthfully under penalty of perjury as it says on the form right before you sign it, were both these types of strategic leaks. They were intended to put Attorney General Sessions and his people on notice that if he messed up the counterintelligence investigation into the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign against the United States, both of which – the investigation and the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign – are still on going, then the Intelligence Community would leak additional damaging information about him.
NEW: BRUCE OHR worked w/ @FBI on a secret program to flip Russian oligarchs, including OLEG DERIPASKA.
Ohr once wrote that Deripaska was "almost ready to talk to US re: $ MANAFORT stole.” He also urged an intermediary to get Deripaska "to give up Manafort" https://t.co/68lvGfhVlh
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) September 1, 2018
Yesterday The NY Times reported about what Bruce Ohr was really doing at the FBI and why he was really in contact with Christopher Steele. This reporting is built around anonymous officials providing the information to counter the narrative being leaked from the GOP House Caucus’s side of the Intelligence and Oversight Committees, as well as pushed by the President and his supporters on social media.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an initiative that remains classified. Most expressed deep discomfort, saying they feared that in revealing the attempts to cultivate Mr. Deripaska and other oligarchs they were undermining American national security and strengthening the grip that Mr. Putin holds over those who surround him.
But they also said they did not want Mr. Trump and his allies to use the program’s secrecy as a screen with which they could cherry-pick facts and present them, sheared of context, to undermine the special counsel’s investigation. That, too, they said they feared, would damage American security.
In short, the Intelligence Community strategically leaked because it was in its interests to do so.
The NY Times reports, based on these anonymous officials, that Ohr was working with Steele to try to flip Oleg Deripaska, known as Putin’s Oligarch (emphasis mine).
Between 2014 and 2016, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department unsuccessfully tried to turn Mr. Deripaska into an informant. They signaled that they might provide help with his trouble in getting visas for the United States or even explore other steps to address his legal problems. In exchange, they were hoping for information on Russian organized crime and, later, on possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to current and former officials and associates of Mr. Deripaska.
In one dramatic encounter, F.B.I. agents appeared unannounced and uninvited at a home Mr. Deripaska maintains in New York and pressed him on whether Paul Manafort, a former business partner of his who went on to become chairman of Mr. Trump’s campaign, had served as a link between the campaign and the Kremlin.
The attempt to flip Mr. Deripaska was part of a broader, clandestine American effort to gauge the possibility of gaining cooperation from roughly a half-dozen of Russia’s richest men, nearly all of whom, like Mr. Deripaska, depend on President Vladimir V. Putin to maintain their wealth, the officials said.
Two of the players in the effort were Bruce G. Ohr, the Justice Department official who has recently become a target of attacks by Mr. Trump, and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a dossier of purported links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mr. Steele sought to aid the effort to engage Mr. Deripaska, and he noted in an email to Mr. Ohr in February 2016 that the Russian had received a visa to travel to the United States. In the email, Mr. Steele said his company had compiled and circulated “sensitive” research suggesting that Mr. Deripaska and other oligarchs were under pressure from the Kremlin to toe the Russian government line, leading Mr. Steele to conclude that Mr. Deripaska was not the “tool” of Mr. Putin alleged by the United States government.
The timeline sketched out by Mr. Ohr shows contacts stretching back to when Mr. Ohr first met Mr. Steele in 2007. It also shows what officials said was the first date on which the two discussed cultivating Mr. Deripaska: a meeting in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014, roughly seven months before Mr. Trump announced that he was running for president.
Ohr’s, Steele’s, and the FBI’s attempts ultimately came to naught, which is not surprising as Deripaska refused to give up Putin, which, as we know, would have been like volunteering to be assassinated.
The systematic effort to win the cooperation of the oligarchs, which has not previously been revealed, does not appear to have scored any successes. And in Mr. Deripaska’s case, he told the American investigators that he disagreed with their theories about Russian organized crime and Kremlin collusion in the campaign, a person familiar with the exchanges said. The person added that Mr. Deripaska even notified the Kremlin about the American efforts to cultivate him.
In particular, the supplemental info demonstrates that Ohr and the FBI had been using Steele as a conduit to try and co-opt Deripaska. That would have been a huge “get” if they had pulled it off, not only for his info on Manafort but for what he could provide about Putin.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) September 1, 2018
puff piece to shore up the Russia probe, the article notes that Deripaska rejected as ridiculous the assertion Manafort served as a conduit between the campaign and the Kremlin. I don’t buy that denial, personally, but that’s what he told the FBI. /end
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) September 1, 2018